For more than two decades, the most intense rivalry in Fontana has been the Steelers vs. the Rebels.
Last Saturday, the rivalry was renewed in a unique way as alumni from Fontana High School and Fontana A.B. Miller High School squared off in a football game at Bruce Richardson Stadium on the Miller campus.
The hard-fought contest stayed close until the fourth quarter, when the Fohi squad, led by quarterback Joe Felix, pulled away for a 23-7 win.
"I had a lot of fun out here with opponents I had played against before," Felix said after the game. "It feels really good to come out here and get a victory and celebrate with my team."
Felix, who previously played semi-pro football and has since gone on to become a coach at Fohi, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Another standout for the Fohi alumni was Francis Tusa, a 2009 Steeler graduate who played last year for Chaffey College.
"It was fun," Tusa said. "When I went to Fohi, we didn't win anything, and so it was good to come back and win against our rival."
Fohi was the only high school in the city until Miller opened in 1991. In the early years of their head-to-head football battles, Fontana was victorious, but Miller became the dominant team during the past decade (until last fall, when the Steelers obtained a narrow win).
In the alumni game, the Rebels took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter when quarterback Jacob Slouka sliced through the Fohi defense on a 70-yard touchdown run.
The Steelers responded with a safety by tackling a Rebel ballcarrier in the end zone.
Then Fohi drove to the Miller 1-yard line, and that's when the game's biggest controversy erupted. The Rebel defenders recovered an apparent fumble by Felix, but after conferring, the officials decided that Felix's forward progress had been stopped prior to the fumble, allowing the Steelers to keep possession of the football.
On the next play, Felix ran into the end zone to give Fohi a 9-7 lead.
The score stayed that way until the final period, when Felix threw two touchdown passes to give the Steelers a more comfortable margin.
The Rebels were able to move the ball sporadically, but the Steeler defense did a fine job of keeping them away from the end zone.
Toward the end, emotions started to run high and there was a brief scuffle between a few players. But after time expired, the teams shook hands and gathered at midfield for a post-game prayer.
Adrian Ramirez, a 2007 Miller graduate, said he enjoyed the experience of "putting the pads on again" one more time.
"The chance to be under the lights again — especially playing against Fohi again, our biggest rivals — was awesome," he said. "I couldn't sleep this whole week."
See video highlights here: